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Wendel McRaven

Wendel McRaven

UI men’s cross-country coach (2005-10) | Now coaching at Texas A&M

What Wendel McRaven wouldn’t give for anything off the mouth-watering menu at his favorite Illinois barbecue joint right about now.

The former Illini cross-country been gone for nearly a decade but still craves Black Dog Smoke & Ale House grub.

“Who would think you could get such great barbecue in East Central Illinois?” he asks from College Station, Texas, where he’s men’s track and field assistant coach at Texas A&M.

“I remember many times going to the original location in Urbana and waiting in line on the sidewalk out front. The original location always reminded me of a great neighborhood joint that you would find in a major city.

“I hope that adding the bigger Champaign location has been a positive move. We try to stop there whenever we are nearby.

“We have had several friends and acquaintances traveling to or through Champaign-Urbana ask us for recommendations. Our Texas friends initially give us grief about recommending barbecue in Illinois, but they are all pleasantly surprised. Nothing, but great post-meal reviews.

“Honorable mention for the McRaven family includes Papa Del’s Pizza, The Ribeye and Custard Cup. I’m sure I’m forgetting a half-dozen other great places, but those are the ones off the top of my head.”